18: “One foot in the grave”

One Sunday after church, while Finch was waiting for Gord to gather up his stuff so that they could leave, he was approached by Gord’s ex-fling Myrtle. Finch had no interest in talking to her, much like he had no interest in talking to anyone. Joey was sitting next to him, flipping through one of the Bibles that sat in the back of the pews. He was frowning, as if he was concentrating on the literature. He’d been weird lately. According to Robin, he had a job now.

“He already has a job,” had been Finch’s response to that.

“No, like a real job,” Robin had explained. “He sells cell phones.”

Finch had just stared at him in disbelief, but he’d since asked Joey about it and apparently it was true. Finch wasn’t sure why Joey had abruptly decided to reform his entire existence, but it certainly explained his sudden interest in Bible Study.

“Hello!” Myrtle greeted Finch and Joey brightly, standing in the pew in front of them, looking down at where they sat. Joey barely looked up from the Bible he was reading, but Finch looked up at her with a flat expression that he hoped would accurately display his unwillingness to talk to her. He loathed smalltalk. He got the impression that Myrtle was the kind of person who thrived on smalltalk. She looked like she befriended strangers all the time. She was wearing a floral sundress with a row of pearl buttons down the chest and a peter pan collar. She was smiling cheerily at them, sunglasses tucked up in her hair on top of her head. She’d left her decrepitly old grandmother in a pew at the front of the church to fend for herself. She was currently cornered by the chattiest woman in the congregation, someone Finch had been actively avoiding ever since he’d begun attending services.

“How are you?” Myrtle asked when it became apparent that Finch wasn’t going to respond to her greeting.

“Fine,” he answered after a long pause. He didn’t return the inquiry, largely because he didn’t want to do anything to encourage the progression or continuation of the conversation, but also because he didn’t care how she was. They hadn’t been friends for the very brief time she dated Gord and he didn’t see any reason for them to start now.

“That’s good,” Myrtle replied, senselessly polite and cheery in the face of Finch’s blatant rudeness. Joey was now nodding and frowning at a passage from the Bible, as if he was finding it particularly moving.

“I’m Myrtle,” Myrtle introduced herself. “I don’t know if Gord told you about me at all.”

Gord had said very little about Myrtle because they hadn’t been together for very long. Mostly he had just talked about how afraid he was of her boyfriend, an incredibly valid fear from what Finch could see. The man was like a human mountain. In any case, Finch didn’t answer.

“I want to talk to Gord about something and I thought I’d wait over here with you guys,” Myrtle explained. She looked as though she might be regretting that decision. Finch still didn’t say anything and the three of them waited in awkward silence for Gord to arrive. Joey continued to read, Myrtle pulled her phone out from her purse, the international sign for “I’m uncomfortable and want to look busy”, and Finch continued to sit in his pew, generally unbothered.

Eventually, Gord walked up the aisle to join them, having ditched his choir gown to reveal the Rolling Stones band shirt he had on. It was not as such church appropriate attire. Myrtle’s grandmother watched him in shock. The chatty woman continued to chat to her, evidently unbothered by her total lack of interest and attention.

“Hi!” Myrtle greeted Gord, who seemed to notice her for the first time. His steps faltered slightly, but he recovered well. He looked around briefly, as if expecting to find her enormous boyfriend laying in wait or something.

“Hi,” Gord replied, already being much more pleasant than Finch had been.

“I just wanted to invite you to a little party I’m having this next weekend,” Myrtle explained to Gord, looking over at Finch and Joey awkwardly. “All of you can come, obviously.”

She was a very gracious woman.

“Oh,” Gord said, startled.

“It’s on Friday,” she continued. “I’ll text you the details. I just have to get Grandma back home.”

She hurried off with a sweet wave and smile to Gord, Finch, and Joey.

“Do you think she has to get Grandma home before she dies?” Finch asked Gord, watching Myrtle go. “Because that seems imminent.”

“One foot in the grave,” Gord agreed, also watching Myrtle walk away. Then he looked back to Finch and Joey, who was still reading the Bible. Gord gestured to him with one hand.

“What is this?” He asked Finch, who shrugged.

“He’s religious now,” Finch explained. “Apparently.”

“What?” Gord asked, frowning.

“I don’t know,” Finch shrugged again. Gord observed Joey for a long time, who hadn’t said anything or put down the Bible despite the fact that he could clearly hear them talking about him.

“So weird,” Gord muttered and Finch couldn’t disagree.

That weekend, Gord and Finch went to Myrtle’s party. Gord hadn’t wanted to go originally, but Finch convinced him to do it. Gord kept looking at Finch like he’d sprouted a third eye in the middle of his forehead, probably because it was extremely unusual for Finch to want to spend time with strangers or actively participate in something. But Finch was tired of hearing Gord talk about Bobby and, prior to that, Janine, and this seemed like as good a way as any to get him to move on. The way Finch saw it, it would work out in one of two ways; either Gord would meet someone new at Myrtle’s party and move on with his life or he would reconnect with Myrtle, who hadn’t brought her gigantic boyfriend to church in a while and was clearly interested in Gord.

“She is not,” Gord protested when Finch told him this as they were standing outside Myrtle’s apartment door, waiting for her to let them in.

“She definitely is,” Finch countered. “Why the fuck else do you think she invited you here?”

“She also invited you here,” Gord pointed out.

“Not really,” Finch answered, but Gord didn’t understand. Finch sighed.

“You can’t be this helpless,” he told Gord.

“I’m not trying to be helpless,” Gord sighed in response.

“No, you don’t understand,” Finch cut him. “This isn’t disbelief. I’m telling you that you’re not allowed to be this helpless. Because it’s annoying and I don’t have time for this shit.”

Gord gave him a long, appraising look.

“You suck,” was what he finally ended up saying. Finch didn’t bother responding. It didn’t matter anyway because Myrtle opened the door seconds later and then threw herself at Gord for a hug. She ignored Finch, which was just as well because the thought of being forced to hug her made him feel itchy, like he was about to break out into hives. He wondered if that would actually happen. He’d never live it down if he actually had an allergic reaction to physical affection. Gord would have a fucking field day. As it was, Gord was fortunately too busy to notice that anything but Myrtle was occurring in the world and Myrtle was likewise wrapped up in Gord so Finch didn’t even have to pretend to care about either of them or their stupid problems.

Finch spent most of the party sitting on the couch in Myrtle’s living room being chatted to relentlessly by her friend Laura. Laura seemed to be suffering under some sort of delusion that Finch gave a shit about her toy poodle Muffy and her recent foray into biking. Laura kept saying that she was kind of unsure of her biking ability on the streets and that she didn’t like wearing a helmet because it messed up her hair. Finch thought the likelihood of Laura being run over by some form of public transportation, like a bus or a cab, was extremely high, but he managed to keep it to himself.

Gord, meanwhile, spent most of the evening with Myrtle, flirting shamelessly and accepting her advances in return. By the time he and Finch finally left her apartment, Myrtle had already made him promise that he would message her the following morning so that they could go to her favourite brunch place.

“I think she and her immense boyfriend broke up,” Gord said as they walked down the hall to the stairwell at the end.

“I don’t give a shit,” Finch returned, but Gord still grinned at him and Finch felt a little like he had lost some important argument he didn’t know he’d been having.

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